Leaving Brooklyn

Posted by Censor Librorum on Mar 13, 2006 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

We are about to leave Brooklyn. We loved being in the city when we were younger, but now our priorities have changed. I want to walk on the sand and stones of a beach, not concrete. I’m done with concrete. I now remember why I didn’t like New York in the first place. It has everything but free nature.

We are also leaving because the Brooklyn neighborhood we moved to doesn’t exist anymore. Our neighborhood has changed so much in the last 17 years. Many places and old-timers I enjoyed when I first moved to Brooklyn are gone. The shelves at Leske’s Bakery are lean; Lento’s is gone; Thompson’s Fish Store has closed up. The casual, neighborly conversations in the elevator or the sidewalk in front of our apartment building–talking about the Rangers, the Knicks, Yankees and Mets, or the weather (New Yorkers constantly complain about the weather!) are not possible if people don’t speak the same language. I don’t speak Russian, Polish, Arabic, Spanish or Chinese.

What I will miss, and have a hard time leaving, is the community of St. Andrews. St. Andrews has given me good people and a spiritual home. When I sit in the pew at St. Andrews, I am home. I have appreciated Fr. M’s sermons. They are crisp intellectual
and historical examinations of scripture, not tepid or fuzzy lectures where the congregation is inclined to hit the “doze” button before it’s time for Communion. Getting involved in various committees, getting to know people as I work with them or see them at mass; appreciating Fr. M. and the parish staff, bit by bit I have reawakened to a Catholic faith and heritage I put aside in anger and frustration many years ago.

St. Andrews is also the place where I first finally realized that in order to practice my faith I needed to set time aside during the week to do so. While I haven’t gone back to observing the Sabbath, I have made an effort to tone it down for work. As a transitionary measure, or some kind of weird mental compromise Catholics seem innately able to conjure up, I won’t call other Catholics on Sunday so I don’t interrupt their Sabbath! And I know I have ended up back in the faith when I’m starting to make mental shifts like the above, and also incorporating petitions and promises (“Dear God, help me to find a parking spot. I promise I’ll…) What Catholic in Brooklyn has not fervently said this prayer?

The part of me where St. Andrews has had the most lasting impact is that I have begun to forgive myself for my lapses, failed intentions and mistakes. When I was able to forgive myself, I became less judgemental with others. It also opened the door to a growing relationship with God, since I don’t feel I have to stand in judgement every second. I have come to believe the former emphasis on obeying every rule and law took people away from God. It became a burden, when, as I am discovering, it really is a joy.

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One Response to “Leaving Brooklyn”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    You say: “(the city) has everything but free nature.” I take exception to that! The other day I was on solid asphalt but witnessed an air fight between two crows (ravens perhaps) and a red-tailed hawk. The hawk finally fed up soared up, up, up, away. That was a sight!

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